After a stunningly aggressive offseason, the Phils are projected by Vegas to win 89.5 games in 2019. Do you go over or under? Here’s a handy guide. For each of these 13 questions that you answer “yes” to, add two wins to that total. For each “no,” subtract two.
1. Let’s start with the big one. Will the new $330 million man, Bryce Harper stay healthy and happy enough to put together a year resembling his 2015 and 2017 seasons, when he averaged .325 with an OPS of 1.064?
2. I’m banking on Aaron Nola to repeat what he did in 2018. But I’m also counting on a bounce-back season from Jake Arrieta. Now that Jake’s mystery meniscus injury has healed, can the former Cy Young winner be counted on for 30 solid starts and an ERA no higher than 3.20?
3. Remember when 3B Maikel Franco was projected to be a star? Those days disappeared, mostly in a flurry of popups to short. Can the 25-year-old once-bright prospect turn his career around?
4. All the analytics types in the Phils’ organization predict 26-year-old Nick Pivetta is poised to be an upper-echelon starter. Are they on to something?
5. There were whispers in 2018 that Andrew McCutchen was wearing down. Then he went to the Yankees at the trade deadline and put up a slash line of .253/.421/.471. The 32-year-old clubhouse leader still has it, right?
6. Quick: Name the Phils pitching coach. Yeah, I needed to look it up, too. Still, as little as you know about 37-year-old Chris Young, is it fair to expect the first-time Major League pitching coach will an improvement over the likes of Rick Kranitz and Bob McClure?
7. Ladies and gentlemen, your starting catcher for the 2019 All-Star Game: J.T. Realmuto. Agree?
8. Gabe Kapler’s first season at the helm certainly had its ups and downs. Now, Kapler’s dugout is packed with talent. Will the New Age activist be able to sit back and let things unfold, suppressing his instinct to overmanage?
9. Speaking of Kapler, he appears not wedded to using one closer and is likely to rotate between veteran lefty David Robertson and young righty Seranthony Dominguez. Is this going to prove a smart strategy?
10. No Phillie is guilty of more boneheaded plays than Odubel Herrera, whose offense, defense and base stealing have declined the last two years. Is this the season the golden-dreadlocked CF turns that around?
11. Jean Segura averaged .308 with 25 steals and 91 runs the past three seasons. But the Phillies are the 29-year-old’s fifth Major League franchise. Will the well-traveled shortstop finally find a home where he fits in at Citizen’s Bank Park?
12. We’ve seen the annual promise and disappointment that is Vince Velasquez. And we watched Zach Eflin fade last season, with a 5.43 ERA in his last 14 starts. I won’t get greedy here: Can we count on either of these guys to perform in 2019?
13. I saved the best for last. While everyone’s talking about the new acquisitions, Rhys Hoskins may be poised for an MVP season. He’ll be comfortable at 1B and in batting in the middle of a packed lineup. Let’s put Hoskins down for 40 homers and 110 RBIs. You with me?
Okay, pencils down. What’s your count? I’ll go “yes” on 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 13. That adds six wins, which puts the Phils at 95.5. I’ll round it up to 96, which sounds to me like a division winner. See you in the playoffs.